I was out shopping over the weekend for the upcoming holiday when two things hit me.

1. Trying to find true meaning in the Christmas season is becoming increasingly difficult to uncover through the mass-marketing of products and the constant onslaught of pressure to buy gifts for everyone you know.

2. The sport of running is an insanely cheap hobby, and I now want to start an urban movement to get inner-city youth running.

Lets talk about my first point. I am becoming more and more disillusioned with the Christmas season. It's turning into a logistical feat of strength. "How can I get us to all of the places we need to be, to see the people we need to see, with all of the stuff packed in my car, without the dog throwing up in the back seat, while at the same time coming up with unique gifts for all the people on our list?"

Now, I am not trying to be a curmudgeon, because I do like spending money on the people in my life, but I have an extremely negative opinion of the forced consumerism that is this holiday.

/end rant

Now, on to my next point. As I was shopping for people who  have been running and exercising, I was trying to figure out possible gift ideas that promoted their healthy lifestyle choices as compared to video games, food, or other sedentary gifts. It occurred to me that running is pretty much impossible to buy things for, as all you need is to throw on some clothes and go outside and do it. Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some spandex, but you don't *need* them to run. Buying shoes for people is typically a no-no, unless specifically asked to, because there is a wide variety and there are specific needs of the runner.

If my memory serves me correctly, a lot of the cross country teams that I remember from high school were mostly middle-class white people. The race participants at our first 5k were mostly middle-class to upper-class white people. It is such a cheap sport with low barriers to entry . . . I am  simply astonished by the lack of diversity of its participants. Why aren't more people getting into it?

I'm not going to rage on about the quality of athletics and physical education in America, as that will just get me going, but rather I just wanted to articulate an idea that if there was a way to encourage urban youths into a productive activity that doesn't cost anything to do, I feel that it would be a much more productive use of energy. Society would also see some positive effects.

We need to stop having football players and basketball players as our idols. Instead, we should choose runners of the highest quality. Those that strive to achieve personal goals through self-motivation, who work day in and day out to get better and improve, who push themselves forward. They would be good role models, not some linebacker that gives quarterbacks concussions.

To recap: Christmas pisses me off. As a society, we need to value professional track athletes and marathon runners and get people running earlier. I guess we just need to develop a way to make a video game about running . . .

Food for thought!